Celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, on June 19, 2012 the British Royal Mail issued ten stamps along with other philatelic items featuring some of his best known characters.
Born of modest means on February 7, 1812, Dickens became an international celebrity in his own day and is in modern times is ranked among the English language's premier story tellers. At the age of 12, with his family in debtors' prison, he was sent to work for a time in a shoe blacking factory, an experience which he attributed as having a significant influence on his work. He championed the plight of the poor and his novels frequently featured child protagonists.
Dickens was immensely popular in his own time. Much of his most famous work originally appeared in serial installments in literary journals - a style which he both pioneered and mastered. There are reports of fans crowding the docks waiting for the latest chapter to arrive, and of groups of unlettered paupers pooling their money to hire someone to read the stories aloud.
In all, the Royal Mail's 2012 Dickens issues total ten stamps - a series of six stamps and a miniature sheet with an additional four stamps.
The stamp series includes 2nd and 1st class rates and denominations to £1.90. The individual stamps measure 27 x 37mm. It is made up of color illustrations from the book "Character Sketches from Charles Dickens," by Joseph Clayton Clarke (better known by the pseudonym Kyd). Although published in 1890, almost 20 years after the novelist's death, Kyd's larger-than-life illustrations epitomize for many the rich characters of Dickens' stories.
2nd Class - Mr. Bumble from Oliver Twist
1st Cass - Mr. Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers
77p - The Little Marchioness from The Old Curiosity Shop
87p - Mrs. Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit
£1.28 - Captain Cuttle from Dombey and Son
£1.90 - Mr. Micawber from David Copperfield
The miniature sheet measures 190 x 67mm with individual stamps measuring 37 x 35mm. All of the stamps in the sheet pay the 1st class rate. It features illustrations by Hablot Knight Brown (better known by the pseudonym Phiz). The black and white Phiz illustrations are from the first editions of Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens and Phiz had a long standing artistic relationship, and the illustrator is credited with bringing the characters to life and helping to reach a broader audience.
In addition to the stamps and miniature sheet, Royal Mail issued a Presentation Pack containing the stamp set and miniature sheet, a set of 11 stamp cards, two First Day Covers, and a Coin Cover.
Introduction to Stamp Identification
Minor variations in collectible stamps can mean the difference between a common item and a great rarity. This introduction to the art and science of stamp identification provides an invaluable overview to the field covering such topics as finding your stamp in a catalogue, design variations, watermarks, printing methods and papers.
Leipzig Fair Philately
For the better part of 1,000 years, merchants have gathered at the Leipzig Trade Fair to sell their wares. In modern times the Leipzig Fair (Leipziger Messe in German) has produced a wealth of philatelic collectibles including stamps, covers, collector cards, and cancels.
Owls of Taiwan Stamp Issue of 2012
Released June 6, 2012 this attractive four stamp set features native Taiwan owls.
The Inverted Jenny - The World's Most Famous Stamp
There is no more iconic emblem of the stamp collecting hobby than the Inverted Jenny. The 1918 United States bi-color error features a blue Curtiss Jenny airplane, upside down in a red frame. The dramatic nature of the error and its storied history has left the Inverted Jenny as the world's most recognizable stamp.
Norway Celebrates 100 Years of Aviation
To mark the occasion of the centennial of Norwegian aviation, Norway Post issued a three stamp set on May 18, 2012. The stamps picture various aircraft that have figured in the country's aviation history.
Japanese Stamps Feature Peter Rabbit and Other Beatrix Potter Characters
On March 31, 2011 Japan Post issued two sheets of stamps to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Japanese-language publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The twenty stamps making up the series depict some of Beatrix Potter's most memorable and beloved scenes and characters.
Tarzan Stamp a Tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Legacy
Tarzan of the Apes is featured on this 2012 US commemorative stamp honoring author Edgar Rice Burroughs. For Burroughs fans, the stamp was a long time coming. The stamp, associated cancels, first day covers, and other philatelic products, join a great heritage of Tarzan collectibles.
Understanding Stamp Values
The subject of stamp valuation is a deceptively complex one. While at first glance, determining the value of a stamp might appear to be a simple matter of turning to one of the many available reference catalogues, in fact the stamp catalogue is just the beginning of the process. This overview presents some of the major topics in stamp valuation, setting you on course to making confident purchases and understanding the ultimate worth of your collection.